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Neighborhood profile : Cylburn-Levindale

Where caring folks keep an eye out for straying kids

March 04, 2001|By Charles Belfoure | Charles Belfoure,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In a matter of weeks, the residents of Cylburn and Levindale will once again know that spring is coming when the chatter of the Pimlico Race Course announcer begins to pierce the quiet of one of Baltimore's more interesting neighborhoods.

Cylburn-Levindale is near Northern Parkway, giving its residents quick access to the Jones Falls Expressway to go downtown or to the Baltimore Beltway. But many of its residents walk to work at Sinai Hospital - the busy icon of the area.

Instead of viewing Sinai Hospital as an intrusion in their lives, residents of the Cylburn-Levindale community see it as a good neighbor, always willing to lend a hand.

Hospitals are known for providing care and support within their fortresslike walls, but Sinai Hospital goes a step beyond by reaching out into this neighborhood directly to its south.

"Sinai always lets us use their facilities for meetings," said Barbara V. Scott, president of the Cylburn Community Action Association. "They also help sponsor our fashion show, annual flea market and Back to School Bash."

"We're a big institution right next door, and we try to be a good neighbor," said Jill Bloom, director of marketing and corporate communication for Sinai. The hospital has routinely contributed funds for youth activities and food drives, Bloom said. "And whenever we plan a renovation, we notify all the community associations and let them know what's going on," she said.

Although there are a few garden apartment complexes, the neighborhood is largely made up of single-family homes that range from two-family brick homes to wood-frame houses that date from the early 20th century.

The 30-block area contains an assortment of architectural styles.

The neighborhood has a large number of post-World War II duplex rowhouses built in a modern design that's unusual for Baltimore. The homes boast white cantilevered porch overhangs and wide picture windows in the living rooms.

At Laurel Avenue, a group of two-family homes has been built entirely of stone. At Ruscombe Lane and Greenspring Avenue, a fine English cottage from the 1920s, including a slate roof, sits on a large lot.

Cape Cods with three to five bedrooms fill up some blocks and lately have sold in the $70,000 range.

Some building is going on as well. A group of townhouses with garages is being completed at Cylburn Meadow on Poe Avenue with a three-bedroom unit listed at $106,900.

"This has been a stable community ever since I moved here 40 years ago," said Janie Geer, past president of the Cylburn Community Association.

Cylburn-Levindale remains a stable and healthy neighborhood, Scott said, because the residents are quick to nip trouble in the bud. "When people see kids start to hang out on corners, they put a stop to it right away," she said.

Many eyes are looking out for signs of trouble in this relatively small community. In addition to Scott's and Geer's associations, there are the Levindale-Sunset Community Association and the Cylburn Circle Neighborhood Association.

Scott's group initiated a youth program for youngsters who are at least 12 years old. It takes them on trips and swim parties and puts on the fashion show that the hospital helps sponsor.

But the neighborhood's young people don't have a recreation center, Scott said. "The children need to go someplace not only to play but to learn," she said.

A new day care center has opened in the past year at Banister Road and Greenspring. The Deer Park Children's Center cares for infants and children through age 4, said Trudy Edwards, its founder and director. The center will eventually have adult day care and an outreach center.

Cylburn-Levindale followed the development pattern of most communities in the northwest corridor of the city. The area had a scattering of houses, but most of the residential building started after World War II, and the neighborhood became predominantly Jewish.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, the community became mostly black and middle class. Scott was one of the first black homeowners in 1965.

Sinai, originally in East Baltimore at Monument Street and Broadway, moved to Greenspring Avenue and Northern Parkway in 1959, next to where the Levindale Hebrew Home and Infirmary is now located.

Cylburn's namesake lies directly across Greenspring Avenue. The Cylburn Arboretum was originally the estate of Jesse Tyson, an owner of copper and chrome mines in Baltimore County. The mansion, designed by George Frederick, the architect of Baltimore's City Hall, was finished in 1889 and now serves as the headquarters of the parks department's horticultural division.

Tyson's widow hired the Olmstead Brothers in 1910 to design the estate's landscaping. For the next 30 years, Cylburn was a fashionable setting for the city's social elite. In 1942, the 176-acre property and mansion were sold to the city.

The mansion's interior finishes, like its floor-to-ceiling French doors and carved wood paneling, are intact and provide a reminder of how Baltimore's rich once lived.

The Cylburn grounds provide much pleasure for the neighbors. "I love to walk along the trails, and lots of people like to visit the greenhouses," Scott said.

To her, the neighborhood has provided everything she could want for 35 years. "No, I'm not moving anytime soon," she said.


ZIP code: 21215

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public schools: Pimlico Elementary, Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Patterson Academy, Poly-Western High, Northwestern High.

Shopping: The Rotunda, shops in Mount Washington

Homes currently on market: 1

Average listing price: $69,425 *

Average sale price: $67,950 *

Average days on market: 53 *

Sale price as percentage of listing price: 97.6% ** Based on 4 sales in the past 12 months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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